DIFFERENT era, different finals system, two fewer clubs than there are now. But same south-east Queensland connection, same potential fairytale outcome.

The Brisbane Bears of 1995 provide for the Gold Coast Suns of 2022 a blueprint for against-all-odds results that can propel a club not just from effectively nowhere with just seven matches remaining in a season, but establish a base for future high-end success.

Some of the comparisons are eerily similar. After 15 matches of both seasons, neither team seemed capable of reaching finals. The Bears were 4-11, three and half matches outside the eight; the Suns 7-8, two games behind the eighth-placed team.

LADDER PREDICTOR Where will your club finish?

At three-quarter time of the Bears' 16th match in 1995, they trailed Hawthorn by 45 points at three-quarter time at their home ground, the Gabba. A nine-goal final quarter led to a seven-point win. The Bears won six of their final seven matches that year, after round 15 losing only to eventual dominant premier Carlton – by 14 points in round 19 and 13 points in a first-versus-eighth qualifying final.

Michael Voss kicks for goal during Brisbane's 1995 qualifying final against Carlton. Picture: AFL Photos

The following season, the Bears reached a preliminary final. In 1997, after merging with Fitzroy and becoming the Lions, they again made finals. They reached another preliminary final in 1999, a semi-final in 2000, then four consecutive Grand Finals from 2001.

At the very least, the Suns of 2022 should privately analyse that history as they plot their course for what is left of 2022. Why not start their fairytale right now?

Like the 1995 Bears, the Suns trailed by a big margin in their 16th match of the 2022 season, 40 to be exact in the third quarter, against the Tigers at their home, Metricon Stadium. Gold Coast kicked the final four goals to win, the last coming after the final siren from an ultra-cool Noah Anderson.

04:35 Mins
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Last two mins: Ecstasy for Suns as Noah sinks Tigers in miracle finish

Enjoy the thrilling final moments between the Suns and Tigers at Metricon Stadium

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Even before THAT kick, Anderson may have already been best afield. If not him, Ben Ainsworth or Touk Miller. Brandon Ellis was very good, again, so too Jarrod Witts. Charlie Ballard's smother of a near-certain Jason Castagna goal late in the game was as ultimately as match-winning as Anderson's 22nd kick for the match.

The after-full-time win helped ease the pain of five (against Collingwood) and two (Port Adelaide) point losses in the previous two games.

Gold Coast is now 8-8, one match and 7.5 percentage points outside the top eight. Its remaining matches are against Essendon (Marvel Stadium), Brisbane (Gabba), West Coast (Metricon), Hawthorn (UTAS Stadium), Geelong (Metricon), North Melbourne (Marvel).

Imagine if the Suns, now in their 12th season of AFL life, needed to beat North in that final game of the year to make their first finals series. After the heroics against Richmond, they've got confidence and hope. And a very close-to-home precedent for how proper fairytales can begin.

Gold Coast players sing the song after their win over Richmond in round 17, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

Losses cut deep for Tigers, Lions

Richmond will almost certainly be left to rue the final quarter of that match against the Suns.

What had been looming as a potential passage to a top-four finish has instantly become a genuine fight to just stay in the eight.

THE RUN HOME Tigers' top-four hopes fade, Lions need a win

The Tigers had done more than enough to win, and while injuries and suspension before (Dustin Martin, Noah Balta, Trent Cotchin, Nick Vlastuin) and injuries during (Tom Lynch, Toby Nankervis and Ivan Soldo) certainly didn’t help their cause, they weren’t the reason for defeat.

Tom Lynch heads on to the MCG ahead of Richmond's round 16 clash with West Coast. Picture: AFL Photos

Losing matches that should have been won is now a Richmond theme of 2022. They led by 40 against the Suns, by 17 in the final quarter against Geelong in round 15 and by 33 points against Sydney in round 11.

It seemed real, the Tigers’ most unlikely of premiership tilts. It might still be, if Dusty, Lynch, Balta and Cotchin get back soon. But not for the first time this season, they have made an already tough task a whole lot tougher.

Same with Brisbane. It too was smashed in round 17 with injuries and unavailability due to health and safety protocols. Among the outs for their match against Essendon were Harris Andrews, Keidean Coleman, Daniel McStay, Jarrod Berry, Daniel Rich, Dayne Zorko, Darcy Gardiner and Noah Answerth. It was semi-catastrophic, from a preparation sense.

But like Richmond against the Suns, Brisbane’s loss against Essendon should not be attributed to player unavailability. Bad misses at goal late in the game by Hugh McCluggage and Oscar McInerney, and other pieces of adversely impactful decision making late in the match were more to blame.

The forward line isn’t functioning as well as it should. Joe Daniher and Eric Hipwood need to start properly firing.

A crucial top two spot is still achievable for the Lions. But that task is now a whole lot more difficult after round 17.

Eric Hipwood leads out for a mark in Brisbane's loss to Essendon in round 17, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

Blues. Cats. MCG. Strap yourselves in

Cannot wait for Saturday night, 7.25pm at the MCG. Charlie Curnow and Harry McKay up one end, Tom Hawkins and Jeremy Cameron down the other. A couple of superstars-in-waiting in the De Konings out there too. Dangerfield, Cripps, Selwood, Walsh, Silvagni, Blicavs, Weitering, Stengle.

First on the ladder versus fifth. 

Skill and storylines everywhere. This has the potential to be the match of the year.

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Carlton's twin towers combine for 10

It was a goal-fest for Carlton's dynamic forward duo with Harry McKay and Charlie Curnow snaring five goals apiece

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In round 17, Geelong did a number on their main threat for the 2022 flag, Melbourne. And Carlton went through the motions against West Coast in Perth, Curnow and McKay booting five goals each.

The absence of Tom Stewart, possibly the best defender in the competition, is yet to hurt the Cats. He's two weeks in to his four-week Tribunal ban, a 112-point win against North Melbourne and a resounding 28-point win against Melbourne last Thursday being the results so far. Maybe the game against the Blues is where it will really impact.